Many of us have experienced emotional trauma in our lives. Healing the trauma is possible if we develop our emotional intelligence. In this episode, Amy Killingsworth examines emotional intelligence and its capacity to transform us. Amy discusses emotional trauma, triggers, and healing from these brings us closer to God. Tune in and be inspired as you Rise to Reign!
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Healing Your Spirit With Emotional Intelligence Pt. 3
In this episode, we are continuing a three-part series on emotional intelligence. This is part three. If you haven’t read parts 1 and 2, they do build on each other and you might be a little lost, so I recommend going back and starting with part 1, going to part 2, and then coming back to this episode. A quick review on emotional intelligence. For our purpose, emotional intelligence is defined as the skillful exploration, identification, and management of emotions.
We left off with the seven core feelings. When we’re talking about learning the skill of emotional intelligence and learning how to feel our feelings, we are talking about something that may be very foreign to us weirdly because feeling and having emotions is the human experience. In our culture, we have gotten so far away and disconnected from our emotional lives from our internal world that this is something that needs to be taught and learned.
We’re focusing on these seven core feelings: contempt, fear, happiness, anger, disgust, sadness, and surprise. The beginning of emotional intelligence is simply checking in with yourself, asking what you’re feeling and being willing to feel that thing instead of stuffing, numbing, projecting and throwing it off on somebody else.
As we continue, I want to talk about this concept of ancient emotions or emotional trauma that we carry around in the nervous system that happened to us in childhood. Something that we may or may not remember, a series of events or a certain relationship that was very painful. Many made different types of traumas that get lodged in our nervous system. There is a statement that we use all the time around here in this show, and that is if it’s hysterical, it’s historical.
We’re feeling all the time, whether we’re feeling it or not. We’re having emotions all the time. The feeling is the experience of the emotion, so you may not be feeling your emotions. You may be numbing, ignoring or stuffing your emotions. You have emotions because you’re an emotional being, but feeling them is the actual experience of emotions. You may not be feeling your feelings, certainly not to the degree or the full expression, but emotions will be felt. If you don’t do it intentionally, they’ll come out some other way. Sometimes you’ll notice or you probably have noticed, that you might find yourself in a situation where your reaction is bigger than the event or the stimulus.
If something feels big, ugly, scary, dark or if the reaction is disproportionate to the event, it’s an old childhood trauma. It’s important to remember the statement that feelings buried alive, never die, or emotions buried alive, never die. They’re just stored away to be felt. They will be felt whether we do it intentionally in a container that is intelligent and conscious, or if we go through our life in reaction mode and have all of these weird issues in relationships, blow-ups and self-sabotage.
The benefit of emotional intelligence is that we get to choose the container and interact with our emotions in an intelligent, intentional and conscious way. If you have a disproportionate reaction or send feelings that are big, ugly, scary and dark, it’s triggering an old childhood trauma. A trigger is a buzzword, so let me take a moment and talk about what is a trigger.The benefit of emotional intelligence is that we get to choose the container and interact with our emotions in an intelligent, intentional, and conscious way. Click To Tweet
A trigger is anything that puts you into a reactionary state. When you find yourself activated emotionally, that’s the state or the effect of having been triggered. In order for something to be triggered, it has to already be there. If that makes sense, you’re not going to get triggered by a new stimulus, but a new stimulus may activate an old trigger. If it’s hysterical, it’s historical, so it’s not necessarily the reaction is coming from that place of that old childhood wound.
I’ll give you an example, so this can maybe make some more sense. My children even when they were toddlers, when they wouldn’t listen to me, I would get hysterical. I would feel feelings of absolute rage. They could color on the walls, spill milk, fight and that stuff would irritate me as it would any parent, but if I am sitting there talking, asking them to do something or to get in the car and they completely ignored me, as children do, that would send me into an absolute triggered state of rage.
It wasn’t until I began to do this work of exploration that I realized that I would go into that hysteria when I wasn’t listened to because I wasn’t listened to as a child. We don’t look to parents to fault or blame anything, but it is important to understand your emotional patterning from your family of origin.
I was the youngest. My parents had a ton of conflict in their marriage. My dad was busy with work and my mom was busy with work sometimes and other stuff. Nobody listened to me. I would just be talking and nobody ever really listened to me or validated what I was saying, or if I was having a struggle, nobody sat with me, helped me and entered into my experience.
What ended up happening as I was a little bit older, maybe in 6th, 7th or 8th grade, I started developing these physical symptoms. Honest to goodness, I wasn’t making them up, but I would get these bad pains in my stomach and be rushed to the hospital from school thinking that I had appendicitis doubled over in pain. They would do all these tests and they couldn’t find anything. I started developing all of these physiological crises.
One time, they were at a conference and they had to fly home from Dallas. They get there and I’m in the hospital and they’re like, “All the tests have been run and there’s nothing wrong,” so they began to think that I was faking it for attention, which I wasn’t. My body was expressing not being heard through a physical symptom. I mentioned in a previous episode that nearly all physical symptoms have an emotional root, and this is an example of that. That was a psychosomatic representation of me not feeling like I was being heard or seen as a child.
As I grew into adulthood, I had more agency. I worked a job, had my own money, got married and had kids, but that patterning or that wound persisted of not feeling heard. When my children would ignore me when I was speaking, it would trigger that, and it was hysterical. If it’s hysterical, it’s historical. It showed up in my workplace as well. Anytime my boss would get onto me for something and I felt like I wasn’t being heard if I wanted to tell my side of the story and they were like, “Zip it. This is how it’s going to be,” I would feel that same rage bubbling up, and it’s disproportionate to what the situation is. That’s how you can tell.
A three-year-old isn’t going to listen to their mother all the time, especially if they’re watching TV, playing video games or engrossed in something. That’s normal, but the reaction that I had wasn’t normal. It was big, scary and awful. If it’s hysterical, it’s historical, and probably two episodes from now, we’re going to get into emotional patterning, emotional addiction and how to unravel and heal this, but now, we’re building a foundation of emotional intelligence so we can move forward into emotional healing.
Every experience we’ve ever had is stored in our nervous system, which creates the foundation for the emotions we carry. We’re going through life experiencing emotions all the time every day. I got some news that was unpleasant, and of course, I had an emotional reaction to that. I had to sit down and intentionally ask myself what I was feeling and feel the feelings that the situation was causing. Had I not done that or had I stuffed those emotions down, I would have that as a project for later that I have to do. It’s like spending on a credit card. The bill is going to come due. Eventually, you have to deal with that thing. Certainly, if you’re in my generation and maybe even older or also younger, our parents had this phrase and this attitude of, “Just get over it.” How many times have you heard that? How many times have you said to your own children or somebody in your life to do get over it?
Our bodies are intentionally designed to feel and express emotions, so it’s physically impossible to just get over it. You have to feel through it. You have to feel those emotions and you have to process through them. The problem lies in a lack of awareness of patterns of managing and coping with our emotions from childhood.
I have mentioned this concept before and it’s the concept of the toxic tank. The toxic tank is my tongue-in-cheek representation of the place where we put all of these negative emotions when we stuff them down. We go through life from the moment that we’re conceived, or even before that, with generational stuff. We go through life, pushing things down into the toxic tank.
As they’re down there, they’re fermenting, rotting and gaining strength and energy. This tank is bursting with all of these negative experiences that we have stuffed down or numbed and not dealt with. What happens is when that tank gets bumped and that’s the trigger, depending on the force of the bump, it opens and things pour out that you’re not expecting.
If you’ve ever been in a situation where somebody says something or something happens and you unload on them and later you’re surprised, this happens to a lot women with hormonal fluctuations, whether it’s right before they have their period or whether they’re going through menopause. That’s often blamed on hormones. However, the hormones create a place where we’re more in touch or where a woman has less of a defense against what’s already there.
Hormonal fluctuations don’t cause emotions. They just stretch thin the mechanism that we use to have a barrier between the toxic tank and the outside world. This is really important because I’ve said it so many times and I’ll repeat it. Avoiding our emotions is more exhausting than feeling them. The woman, or the girl even, who has a breakdown during her time of the month is not experiencing something that is caused by the hormones.Avoiding our emotions is more exhausting than feeling them. Click To Tweet
She’s experiencing something from the toxic tank, from childhood or from emotional patterning that hasn’t been dealt with, but she’s losing the ability to create the barrier between the toxic tank and the outside world. In that way, being triggered or having hormonal fluctuations is a profound grace because it allows us to self-exploration. When we feel that hysteria or when we feel hysterical, it’s a great time to come conscious, start getting curious and ask what is going on.
Avoiding our emotions is more exhausting them feeling them, so being selective with what we’re willing to feel and what feelings we avoid comes at a high class. We as humans are taught from a young age that experiencing certain emotions is a form of weakness. It’s true for all of us, but especially for men. Anger, fear, sadness and grief are the emotions we commonly try to manage or stuff, and then some people actively or proactively stuff joy because even joy is triggering.
In season one, I did an episode called The Most Difficult Emotion You Can’t Live Without. Depending on your emotional addictions and your patterning, joy or happiness can be triggering. Even peace can be triggering if you’re addicted to drama and chaos. Those emotions that we call negative, which I don’t call them negative, I call them difficult, like anger, fear, sadness and grief, are the emotions we commonly try to manage or stuff, but many people also stuff positive emotions like peace and joy.
The bottom line is that emotional suppression causes major physical and psychological stress, so what can we do? This is where we’ve been leading for two and a half episodes. We have to train ourselves to be emotionally fit, healthy and intelligent. As this content has been released across different platforms, I have gotten the question multiple times of how do we help our kids with this? Where do we go with this where our kids are concerned? The best thing that you can do is to model emotional health. That’s how you teach kids.
When you’re emotionally fit, healthy and intelligent, you naturally interact with them and their emotions in a way that empowers them to feel and experience their own emotions, and they will develop their own emotional fitness, intelligence and health. Strength, empathy and understanding around our moods and feelings about ourselves, God, others and the world is an incredible asset and massively improves your quality of life.
Our tagline is God wants you healed so you can wholeheartedly live your purpose and love your life, and in order for you to do that, you have to correct your understanding of the human experience around your feelings about God, yourself, others and the world, and that creates an incredible asset that leads you to your people and your purpose. I’m going to give you some practical tools here.
Emotional Body Scan
The first one that I want to talk about is the emotional body scan. We use this in our live events, coaching circles or retreats, and it’s really powerful. You want to probably do this when you have some time. Sometimes, you’ll notice that something happens and you can’t process through it right at the moment because it’s inappropriate and you need to come back to it later and process through. To do this, you need to get yourself back into the time or situation when you were activated or triggered.
A great example is if you are maybe having a conversation with someone at work and you feel yourself getting that activation and it’s not appropriate right then. Later, when you have some quiet time, you can sit down and put yourself back into that situation as much as you can. Think about it and imagine how you were feeling, where you were when you felt triggered, and then do a body scan. Start at the top of your head and follow all the way down through your body to your toes and ask yourself, “What am I feeling?” Find it in your body.
I almost always find my trauma right here in my solar plexus where my ribs come together, or right in the dead center of what you call maybe the pit of the stomach. A lot of people feel it in their shoulders, the back of their neck or stabbing in their cranial region. Wherever it is, find it in your body and then describe it. You can ask what color or shape it is, is it hot or cold, does it have a temperature or texture. Focus your attention on this feeling in your body and then give it a name.
Remember the seven core emotions. They are contempt, fear, happiness, anger, disgust, sadness and surprise and ask which one of those it is. Once you have a description of the feeling and you’ve given it a name of one of the seven core feelings, ask if it has anything that needs to be heard. I usually sit with a pencil and a paper or journal and a pen and ask if it has anything that needs to be heard. In this place is where you partner with the holy spirit for emotional healing.
I am not a big proponent of digging for memories and having to talk therapy through all of your trauma and misery. If you need to remember something to heal, your subconscious and partnership with the holy spirit inside of you will reveal that. You don’t need to go searching for memories or necessarily understand why, but you can explore them. You need to explore it to the extent that it wants to be seen and witnessed.
Sometimes, you’ll get a memory, a picture in your mind or a situation replay. You can journal that out, and then we do the forgiveness prayer. It looks like this, “Holy spirit, I’m feeling sad about this. I felt like I lost out or I felt like that person betrayed me. I’m feeling this, but I’m willing not to. Will you take it from me? Will you show me this situation, this person or this event from a healed perspective or from heaven’s perspective?” With your journal, you can write whatever comes into your consciousness about that situation, the event or the person. That’s the basic container of emotional exploration.
Emotional intelligence is the skillful exploration, identification and management of emotions in ways that promote agency and potential in ourselves and others. We’ve covered exploration and identification. Let’s quickly get into the management part. As you explore and identify, the emotions will begin to manage themselves, but I want to connect it to some of our principles for you to be able to begin to make this all congeal and come together.
Remember that we’ve got the seven principles and the seven categories within our framework, but the whole thing hinges on emotional health. Emotional health is like the heart of what this show is because emotional health or the heart is at the heart. It is the inner world or the kingdom of God inside of you that is where your whole life. Proverbs says, “Guard your heart for out of it flows the issues of life,” so emotional health is the fulcrum on which the entire thing turns.God wants you healed so you can wholeheartedly live your purpose and love your life. Click To Tweet
When you connect it to a few of our principles, you can start getting the big picture. When we’re talking about emotional health, we have to talk about agency. Agency in our lingo is sovereignty, and sovereignty is a combination of ownership, responsibility and autonomy. Choosing the way that we show up in our lives and in the world is an incredible asset. It is something that hardly anybody does.
Many people out there are just living in reaction. Being intentional and actually choosing how we show up in our lives while showing grace to ourselves and others as we grow and journey through life is sovereignty. It’s that self-contained intentional, “I’m the captain of my ship. the outside is not influencing me, but I am doing the influencing on my external environment from the inside out,” and so this self-awareness leads to an ability to take ownership of your life and not feel like you’re the victim of circumstances or sometimes even religious circles, you’re the victim of God or the devil.
When you have self-awareness when you cultivate agency and sovereignty, you have an incredible amount of ownership over not only what happens in your life, but more importantly, how you feel about it and experience it. We can’t always control the events, but we can always control the meanings we give it and our experience of the world, so nothing can harm you when you have that ability. It’s amazing to be able to walk through life and not be afraid because you know that you have the tools to meet life on life’s terms.
Self-awareness plus responsibility equals potential. When we say that God wants you healed so you can wholeheartedly live your purpose and love your life, it’s important to understand that this tool of self-awareness plus responsibility, ownership or sovereignty equals your potential. If you want to find your purpose, or if you want to live up to your potential, the key is self-awareness plus responsibility or self-awareness plus sovereignty. Self-awareness really is a superpower. I get excited about this because self-awareness is so powerful.
When you have a high degree of self-awareness, your life will make sense and it goes well. Your relationships, finances and physical health goes well. Self-awareness is key. It’s an absolute superpower. It is hidden in your subconscious and you can choose to wake it up to understand who you are and how you respond so that you can choose your outcomes and arrange your life and relationships in a predictable way and that is truly becoming empowered and becoming the captain of your own ship.
We do this through an honest inventory of some of the potential triggers that would cause us to want to self-medicate and numb. I already covered this a little bit, but you want to pay attention when you get into that space. In a couple of episodes, we’re going to talk about emotional addictions and core beliefs and how some of this stuff gets laid down and how to unwind it, but we have to cover something that is super toxic, difficult and anathema to emotional healing, and that is emotional numbing.
When we feel unsteady or off-balance and something in your world happens or bumps up against you like you get some bad news, a diagnosis, a bill, you get divorced or something doesn’t go your way, when something bumps you and you feel unsteady or off-balance, a numbing agent is something that you reach for to steady you and to give you a sense of composure. This can be technology, social media, pornography, shopping, spending, sex, alcohol, drugs, fixing codependency, busyness, or exercise. There’s no end to what these things can be.
Some of them are more destructive than others, but none of them are solutions. They’re just things that become addictions and lead to more imbalance. Addiction is simply trying to solve an internal problem by external means, and we see this a ton in the medical culture that we live in. They’re like, “if you’re having anxiety, here’s the pill.”
You don’t ever heal what’s underneath and what’s the underlying cause of the anxiety. It’s just, “Here’s a pill,” or maybe you don’t take pills, but maybe you smoke marijuana or have that half a bottle of wine or the two glasses of wine that takes the edge off. Those things are not solutions, and maybe they’re not bad in and of themselves necessarily or maybe they’re not harmful, but when you use them to try to regain a sense of balance and composure, you’re trying to solve an internal problem by external means and that never works. It just leads to more imbalance.
Addictions cause major problems in our lives, even if they’re to positive things like exercise. What is the solution? This is even the solution to addiction as much as that seems like a complicated problem and there are physiological components to it, but self-awareness is the solution. It’s the solution to numbing and addiction.
Coming conscious inside of your triggers is like opening your eyes and examining the origin and quality of your emotional responses and making a conscious decision on how best to interact with them. This practice is to drive a little wedge in between an experience or a trigger and when you had reached for that substance. The old joke is you go to an interview and they say, “What’s your weakness?” You say, “Perfectionism,” and that’s not a weakness, so it’s a way of answering the question in a way that makes you look good.
That’s my answer to what is my emotional numbing. My emotional numbing is self-improvement. When I feel triggered, I feel like I’m not enough or life is coming at me fast, I dive into a course or some type of self-improvement project. I’m working on something on my body, working on something in my mind, reading a book or getting a coach. I always dive into a self-improvement project which seems positive, but if you’re doing it to avoid your emotions, it’s destructive.
Another example is something that I used to do. I would feel overwhelmed mostly in a difficult and toxic relationship within my marriage years ago. I would reach for a glass of wine every single night. I just looked forward to that and I needed it. I was never an alcoholic, but I was using that to emotionally numb and that became a crutch.
The process that I’m describing is to come conscious at that moment as you’re tempted to reach for the phone and open social media, or you’re tempted to open up that site and go shopping, or pornography, to come conscious in that moment and go through the process of, “What am I feeling right now?” Do the emotional body scan. Interact with the holy spirit and invite the holy spirit to take control and take that emotion to translate it into a better and more empowering meaning. That is self-awareness as a superpower.Self-awareness plus responsibility equals potential. Click To Tweet
I also want to mention self-aware, self-care. This concept of self-care has become something toxic, because a lot of times when we talk about self-care, you see something on Instagram and it’s promoting an emotional numbing agent. It’s self-care as eating doughnuts, taking bubble baths, drinking wine, or going shopping. That’s not self-care. It’s numbing.
To take care of yourself in a self-aware way, it requires you to examine and explore your emotions using tools, and then to say no, or hold a previously set boundary and create this space to meet your needs and refuel without numbing. Do we need time with our friends? Yes. Can going out and bitching with your girlfriends be numbing? Yes. It’s important. Self-awareness and consciousness is the differentiator there. Is it okay to have a glass of wine? Yes. Are you doing it from a place of having pleasure and enjoying the wine or are you doing it to numb? That’s where self-awareness is critically important.
Emotional Intelligence In Relationships
Emotional intelligence in relationships. It’s important to implement emotional check-ins between people like parents and children and certainly, between romantic partners. I believe in workplace relationships as well. When you’re talking about a child, it’s important to physically get on a child’s level and intentionally ask them what they’re feeling, where they feel it in their body, describe it, and take them through the emotional body scan tool.
My youngest child feels big feelings and he reacts strongly, and this has been a game-changer to help him cultivate self-awareness around what he’s feeling. I’m like, “What are you feeling right now? Give it a name. Where is it in your body? Describe it.” Express gratitude and appreciation regularly for the people in your life. Remember, this is super important. Humans are not problems to be solved. We’re individuals to be experienced.
This is wrapping our three-part series on Emotional Intelligence 101. To recap or to reiterate, emotional intelligence is the skillful exploration, identification and management of emotions in ways that promote agency and potential inside ourselves and others. I hope you feel empowered to honor yourself and others. Show up for your life in an empowered way and live a more connected, rich human experience. Remember, the quality of your emotions is the quality of your life. I’ll see you next time in the next episode.
Are you a Prisoner or a Queen? (or something in between)
The four archetypes help you distinguish between your true identity and how you might react in times of stress or out of unhealed wounds. Your identity is defined as: a) The condition of being a certain person and/or b) the characteristics by which a person is known. How do you see yourself? How do others see you? Who does God say you are? By understanding the prisoner, slave, princess (prince) and Queen (King), you can be intentional about choosing to show up as your true self and stepping away from patterns of dysfunction.
You were born to reign. But you have to know who you are first. In this free download, I explain the four Rise to Reign Archetypes (Prisoner, Slave, Princess & Queen). Self awareness creates the ability to shift in the direction of your wildest dreams instead of your worst fears.